Boston Legal Spills the Beans on Wretched TV

Approaching the end of its final season, ABC's courtroom drama, Boston Legal, admitted in its penultimate episode a truth rarely spoken in Hollywood: the quality of entertainment television is abysmal.  

Monday, Dec. 1's show featured an elderly woman who wanted to sue the broadcast networks for failing to create television shows she would enjoy.  Her attorney, Carl Sack, played by actor John Larroquette, argued that the networks practiced ageism because of their desire to cater to young people:

What they're doing intentionally excludes a class of society.  That's bigotry.  You know, we should be able to turn on our d--- televisions and see something other than reality shows aimed at fourth graders, games shows aimed at those slightly smarter than fifth graders and scripted shows with dim-witted, sex-crazed 20-somethings running around in suits or doctor scrubs. Old people, the ones with intelligence, don't want to watch that crap. We're fed up! You know, the networks might think we're dead, but we're not. We're very much alive with working brains. Give us something to watch, d--- it!  

Sack argued it was ridiculous for the networks to ignore older audiences from an economic perspective because “the Baby Boomers, now all over 50, earn $2 trillion in annual income,” and that they “account for half of” discretionary spenders.  He added, “We've got more money.  We spend more money.  We watch more television, go to more movies.  We buy more CDs than young people do.” 


Sack also argued that judges should force the networks to produce programming that would appeal to an older audience.  In a scene set outside the courtroom he told the judge:

People over 55, we watch 6 hours a day.  And we really watch.  So why aren't they programming for us?  You know, come on, do these idiots a favor, Judge.  Send these networks a clue.  Be a leader.  And we can't wait for Congress after all, because, well, they're bozos too.   

Ultimately the judge allowed the case to stand. 

A cynic might say that Boston Legal is complaining about the lack of quality television only because the show is going off the air.  Sack poked at that point, saying, “All the networks want to do is skew younger. Kid shows for kids. You know, the only show unafraid to have its stars over 50 is "B"—I can't say it. It would, um, break the wall.”  One of Boston Legal's stars, William Shatner, turned 77 in March.  Co-star Candice Bergen turned 62 in May, and Larroquette turned 61 in November. 

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center